Jim Johnson Throws Himself Under the Bus
Jim Johnson will be running Sen. Obama’s VP selection committee no more:
“Jim did not want to distract in any way from the very important task of gathering information about my vice presidential nominee, so he has made a decision to step aside that I accept,” Sen. Obama said Wednesday. “We have a very good selection process under way, and I am confident that it will produce a number of highly qualified candidates for me to choose from in the weeks ahead. I remain grateful to Jim for his service and his efforts in this process.”
It all stems from favorable loans Johnson got from Countrywide. The McCain campaign came out with a statement calling them “questionable.” What makes them questionable? I’ve seen nothing challenging their legality. If you were given a great deal on a mortgage wouldn’t you take it? That’s what Johnson did. Now, if I were a Countrywide shareholder I’d be mad CEO Angelo Mozilo abused his fiduciary responsibility by using company resources to pay off friends.
What critics should be upset about is the situation the federal government created. Because Fannie Mae is a government-sponsored enterprise bond investors assume taxpayers would cover any problems that could occur with bond payments. This allows Fannie Mae to pay less in interest. The company passes on the interest savings to home loan borrowers. This beneficial situation has allowed the company (along with Freddie Mac) to dominate the mortgage business. It’s not a surprise that Angelo Mozilo is friends with Johnson. He wanted to keep a customer of Countrywide’s mortgages happy.
What is questionable is Sen. Obama going off on CEO’s pay while accepting the services of a man who made $21 million in one year. I have no problem with that, but Obama has griped about it in speeches and on commercials.
It got Jim Geraghty to ask a good question:
If Obama keeps using the darn-those-greedy-CEOs lines in his speeches, could he at least insert the disclaimer, “except for CEOs who work on my veep selection committee”?
“Johnson Resigns From Team Vetting Obama VP Candidates”
UPDATE: Michael Goldfarb at The McCain Report adds:
First, the Obama campaign has shown remarkable dexterity in moving from the “overblown and irrelevant” message on Monday, to a “game” over someone who is only “tangentially related” to the campaign on Tuesday, to “you’re fired” on Wednesday. It’s the kind of change that looks very familiar to anyone who’s ever picked up the Washington Post.
Second, let’s remember where all of this started–with Obama’s bold pronouncement that his VP search process was “one of the most important decisions I can make, and I think will signal how I want to operate my presidency.” So what signal does it send that Obama tossed Johnson overboard when the press didn’t give him a free pass?